Is there long-term brain damage after bypass surgery? More evidence puts the blame on heart disease

Human heartBrain scientists and cardiac surgeons at Johns Hopkins have evidence from 227 heart bypass surgery patients that long-term memory losses and cognitive problems they experience are due to the underlying coronary artery disease itself and not ill after-effects from having used a heart-lung machine.

Researchers say their latest findings explain study results presented last year, which showed that the heart-lung machines – used to pump blood and supply the body with oxygen while the heart is stopped during surgery – did not cause postoperative long-term brain deficits.

"Our results hammer home the message that heart-lung machines are not to be blamed for cognitive declines observed years later in people who have had bypass surgery," says lead study investigator Ola A. Selnes, Ph.D., a professor in the Division of Cognitive Neuroscience in the neurology department at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

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